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Nonnecrotizing anterior scleritis mimicking orbital inflammatory disease

Authors Lynch MC, Mick AB

Received 26 April 2013

Accepted for publication 19 June 2013

Published 13 August 2013 Volume 2013:5 Pages 29—37

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/OPTO.S45580

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2


Michelle Chen Lynch,1 Andrew B Mick2

1Optometry Clinic, Ocala West Veterans Affairs Specialty Clinic, Ocala, FL, USA; 2Eye Clinic, San Francisco VA Medical Center, San Francisco, CA, USA


Background: Anterior scleritis is an uncommon form of ocular inflammation, often associated with coexisting autoimmune disease. With early recognition and aggressive systemic therapy, prognosis for resolution is good. The diagnosis of underlying autoimmune disease involves a multidisciplinary approach.
Case report: A 42-year-old African American female presented to the Eye Clinic at the San Francisco Veteran Affairs Medical Center, with a tremendously painful left eye, worse on eye movement, with marked injection of conjunctiva. There was mild swelling of the upper eyelid. Visual acuity was unaffected, but there was a mild red cap desaturation. The posterior segment was unremarkable. The initial differential diagnoses included anterior scleritis and orbital inflammatory disease. Oral steroid treatment was initiated with rapid resolution over a few days. Orbital imaging was unremarkable, and extensive laboratory work-up was positive only for antinuclear antibodies. The patient was diagnosed with idiopathic diffuse, nonnecrotizing anterior scleritis and has been followed for over 5 years without recurrence. The rheumatology clinic monitors the patient closely, as suspicion remains for potential arthralgias including human leukocyte antigen-B27-associated arthritis, lupus-associated arthritis, seronegative rheumatoid arthritis, recurrent juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and scleroderma, based on her constitutional symptoms and clinical presentation, along with a positive anti-nuclear antibody lab result.
Conclusion: Untreated anterior scleritis can progress to formation of cataracts, glaucoma, uveitis, corneal melting, and posterior segment disease with significant risk of vision loss. Patients with anterior scleritis must be aggressively treated with systemic anti-inflammatories and monitored for recurrence of sight-threatening or life-threatening complications relating to systemic disease.

Keywords: anterior scleritis, nonnecrotizing scleritis, ocular inflammation, anti-inflammatory therapy, systemic steroids

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